While we were in North Carolina, we took a detour to pick up some apples. I had forgotten how delicious fresh apples are. I suspect that most of the apples that we get down here have been in cold storage for at least a year, before being shipped a thousand miles or more. They're mealy and tasteless.
The apples that we got in North Carolina are glorious. On Wednesday night, we ate rainbow trout with a side dish of apples and onions, cream style corn, and mashed butternut squash--a perfect autumnal dish.
Several days this week, I've eaten a simple meal of apples and cheddar cheese. All it would have needed was cinnamon bread to be complete. My grandparents used to travel before fast food restaurants took over the roadsides (and they couldn't have afforded to eat their meals in any kind of restaurant anyway), and apples, cheese, and bread made a complete meal for them. As I've eaten my simple meals, I've thought about their simple lifestyle and how I wish I used their lives as a model more often than I do. Let me be clear: there's plenty about their lives I wouldn't wish to emulate or experience (the poor medical care of the earlier half of the 20th century, the poverty that it took them almost a lifetime to escape, the isolation that came from being a Lutheran minister and his wife).
When we got home, I was happy to see my contributor copies of The Healing Muse. Two of my poems debut in that journal, and I'll post one below. It's based on a true story. Some years ago, my Indian friend came to our quilting group. She said, "I saw the Dalai Lama at Whole Foods."
Of course, it took some convincing, and some of us were never convinced. But really, who else could it have been? We see many a strange costume down here in South Florida, but it's rare to see a bald, Asian, older man with a winning grin dressed in saffron robes down here. And the Dalai Lama was in town. I didn't find it inconceivable that she would see him.
It fired my imagination, in fact, as you can see below. Just for fun, I've also posted a different version of the poem. A few years ago, I was experimenting with form, and I transformed the poem into a sonnet. I honestly can't decide which I prefer. You'll notice that in the sonnet I made the speaker a Christian, which my Indian friend is not. What can I say? There aren't a lot of English words that make a true rhyme with the word immune.
She sees the Dalai Lama at Whole
Foods Market. He compares
brands of vitamin C.
She observes his weary
face, his rumpled
robes and finds a strange
comfort in the realization that even the holiest
among us has need
now and then of an immune system boost.
“Namaste,” she whispers,
as she reaches
for a can of soy protein.
She sees the Dalai Lama
at Whole Foods Market. He compares
bottles of vitamin C; she thinks of his life’s trauma,
and wonders how he dares
to do something so normal as grocery shopping.
She knows what the mystics would say:
after enlightenment, continued laundry and wood chopping.
It is for such acceptance she would pray.
She thinks of this holy man and his immune
system which needs a boost.
She thinks of her own religion, a god triune,
and of her children, like chicks in a roost.
“Namaste,” she whispers and reaches for soy.
She thinks of the world, and prays for its joy.
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